That’s what separates success from failure. It’s the question that has haunted millions before we were born, and will ultimately decide whether the species reaches the stars or winds up as cockroach feed. It’s what pigeonholed the high school jock as the prototypical Doomed Male: Impressive in his physique, but unable to adapt mentally.
Football, in that sense, has always served as a microcosm for mankind’s ability to survive and come to terms with it’s past – if only so it can bury it in move on.
Someone, then, must’ve left Al Davis out of the meeting on Human Evolution 101.
Seven years removed from the smallest sliver of Glory, Al Davis sits in his suite at the Alameda Coliseum, slumped over in his track suit and high on morphine and memories. But memories won’t save this franchise. They won’t protect Michael Bush when the line breaks down. They won’t add longevity to Darren McFadden’s knees. They certainly won’t help channel the tenacity of Ken Stabler or the grit of Daryle LaMonica into the team’s franchise QB. At best, they’ll serve to remind the team’s aging owner of what once was, and keep the denizens of the Raider Nation drunk on what could have been.
Like the high school jock, the Raiders are hell bent on recapturing their former glory through intimidation and ridiculous claims of birthright. Don’t blame them – it’s the only defense mechanism they have left. Here they sit –far from the biker bars and wild cocaine parties of yore— overweight, undervalued, and covered with needle marks and tattoos that say that not now, but once, they were Kings. Meanwhile, the Manning’s and the Brady’s and the Shanahan’s of the League have moved on. Daily, they step over the carcass of the Raider image that sleeps on the sidewalk, blanketed by newspapers filled with headlines preaching the formers’ ability to “get it.”
The factoids surrounding the Oakland police blotter’s all reek of bravado, but miss out on the bigger picture: Success builds image, not the other way around. Because of this, Tom Cable has become the Pariah of the Month in the Bay Area. But we love winners more than we love ethics –always have. Had Cable had been successful in producing a winner despite Davis’ antiquated game plans, his past transgressions would’ve been forgotten and notched up as an addition to the Raider Mystique. The same mystique that swallowed this franchise up years ago.
So what, if anything, can be done to save this team? We live in interesting times, and just as Change was sold to the world a year ago in the form of a presidential candidate, so too can the Advertising Machines sell Change to Oakland. It’s time for the Emperor to step aside –or at least realize that no amount of chest-thumping will make up for poor business decisions.
The Patriots didn’t reach the mountaintop because of the Tuck Rule Game: They did it because they built a machine that is self-automated, and hired the right people to work that machine. They didn’t care if they fit the “Patriot Image,” because images are bought and sold and revised and entirely subjective to the Won/Loss column. If there’s any team that could show Davis the meaning of “Getting it,” it’s the team that started their descent into oblivion.
The problem, though, is that no matter how many times this Emperor is told he has no clothes, he’s content on strolling through the world bare-assed and frostbitten. The pride he still clings to is the only protection he needs to weather the elements. The only change he’s content with the few coins the Brady’s and the Manning’s and the Shanahan’s toss into his cup as they pass him by. But it’s not enough to win. It’ll never be enough to restore any modicum of dignity to this team until Davis realizes that Pride and Poise have poisoned the progress of this team.
So, as a Raider fan, I ask that Al consider his options. Learn from your mistakes, Al. Realize that winning, not trailblazing, is the surest way to see another Super Bowl before you expire. Realize that there’s no pride in losing –no matter how many “Moral Victories” you chalk up. Realize that change is the only real way of ever “Getting It.”
Most of all, Al: Just win, baby…please.